For each country around the world Independence Day has a different meaning and ways that people celebrate their heritage, patriotism and history. Here in Costa Rica we celebrate Independence Day every year on September 14th & 15th. The whole country has their special traditions but the general idea is celebrated similarly throughout the country on these days.
Following their defeat in the Mexican War of Independence, Costa Rica, along with the rest of Central America, was granted their independence from Spain on September 15th, 1821. On this day it was that Costa Rica began to redefine itself & its’ identity as a country. Since then they have carried along a few customs every year to remind the people of this very special & significant day.
Here are some facts & information about Costa Rica Independence Day:
Starting on the 9th of September in Guatemala people light the “Independence Torch” and then by foot carry it through Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua and ending in Cartago, Costa Rica on the 14th, the eve of Independence Day. The torch has now become an important national symbol for Costa Ricans.
Faroles, or lanterns, are a very big part of the Independence Day celebrations. These handmade lanterns are a tribute to Dolores Bedoya, who in 1821 took only a lantern around Guatemala with the message that they were now independent nations. These days’ schools throughout Costa Rica encourage their students to craft these faroles out of recycled household materials, decorating them with patriotic symbols, fun stickers and other things. Then on the evening of September 14th parents and children gather in towns to commemorate Bedoya by parading with their lanterns throughout the streets.
Here in Costa Rica for Independence Day, the people like to celebrate both the evening before as well as on the actual day, September 15th. As mentioned previously the kids decorate lanterns and use these while parading the streets on the eve of Independence Day. In addition to that, there is also typically a parade the morning of Independence Day. The towns and streets fill up with children wearing traditional Costa Rican dress and perform the traditional Costa Rican dances. Street vendors line up to sell souvenirs and local cuisine for people to enjoy during the parades & festivities.
Of course no holiday anywhere in the world is complete without traditional and delicious foods. Costa Ricans love celebrating their holidays with a few types of things. Casados being the most popular dish throughout Costa Rica is of course a staple at any Independence Day event. In addition to the appetizing plate, often people also cook up various types of empanadas and tamales to enjoy. Typically the foods are enjoyed during the parades or after at a private home with friends and family, or both! Adults tend to enjoy their meal with either an Imperial or Pilsen, the nations local beers, or Guaro, the countries locally produced sugar cane alcohol, while the children enjoy “agua dulce” a sweet, locally made water.
If you happen to find yourself in Santa Teresa staying at Hotel Casa Chameleon, during this holiday be sure to ask your concierge about the local festivities and events. It is a wonderful way to celebrate a beautiful culture and history along with create lifelong memories from your vacation.